Last-gasp bid on Limerick Boat Club plan
) 21 January 2009
By Anne Sheridan
THE fate of the â‚¬20 million redevelopment of Limerick Boat Club will be decided next Monday.
The president of Limerick Boat Club, Dermot Moloney, is calling on city councillors to support the plans, which he said would be "an asset to the city and a further step in the regeneration of the riverside city."
The plans are before the Council for approval at next Monday's meeting and needs a two-thirds majority from councillors to be passed. If approved, the new building could create up to 200 full-time jobs.
But Michael Daly of Fordmount Developments, the joint applicants of the project, said he was disappointed that the amount of capital the company have invested in the city "didn't seem to cut any ice" with Mayor of Limerick Cllr John Gilligan, whom he met last Thursday.
"Everyone I've spoken to said it's a fantastic project, but I had hoped to get a better hearing from the mayor. I had hoped that what we're spending in the city as a small company, and with the plans we have for the future, that it would have counted for more," said Mr Daly.
Fordmount Developments were behind the construction of Riverpoint â€“ Limerick's tallest building â€“ as well as the City Central development on Bedford Row, the Marriott on Henry Street, and a plan to open a cinema complex on Bedford Row pending agreement with existing tenants.
Mr Daly said he is trying to remain optimistic about the outcome of the meeting, but if it is refused he believes there will be little scope to tweak the design for a third time.
To receive the green light, a two-thirds majority of the 17 city councillors will have to vote in favour of delisting the building and will also have to vote on a material contravention to rezone the site. But councillors have suggested that some political parties may be deciding to vote en bloc.
Asked whether he is in favour of the plans, Fianna Fail Cllr John Cronin said "we haven't decided how we're going to vote yet" and confirmed that the party will be voting together on this issue.
Mayor Gilligan had previously told this newspaper he would not be "blackmailed" into voting in favour of the plans, which members say could be forced to close if the plans are not given the go-ahead. "Hard decisions have to be made when you're planning a city and my answer will be 'no'," said Mayor Gilligan.
Councillors who have voiced their opposition to the development include Independent Cllr Katheen Leddin, and those who have backed the development are Labour Cllr Joe Leddin (a member of Limerick Boat Club), Labour's Gerry McLoughlin and Fine Gael councillors Jim Long and Kevin Kiely.
Mr Moloney has now urged City Hall to look at the employment that will be created during the construction phase of the proposed new club, which would also serve a civic purpose.
The development would take 18 months to build, with over 150 employed during the construction phase and 200 people working there following its construction in offices, a restaurant and cafe/bar.
Mr Moloney said the current building can no longer function adequately for the demand of a modern sporting club, and believes there is no material justification why the building should not be delisted.